Zophobas atratus (Fabricius, 1775) – new genus and species of darkling beetles (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) for the fauna of Ukraine

  • V. N. Fursov
  • L. S. Cherney
Keywords: Сoleoptera, Tenebrionidae, Zophobas atratus, Ukraine


Darkling beetle Zophobas atratus (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) is recorded here for the first time as a new species for the fauna of Ukraine. Detailed study on morphology of preimaginal stages and biology of this species recently introduced to Ukraine, is given here. Zophobas atratus is an important species being easily reared in laboratory cultures and widely distributed in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Detailed descriptions of all life stages, including egg, young and older larvae, pupa and adult of Z. atratus are required for further taxonomical study of the genus Zophobas, which isn’t yet definitively established. New identification keys for adults and larvae of the genera of tribe Tenebrionini are presented here, based on a comparative analysis of the taxonomic characters of adults and larvae of Z. atratus and species from the genera Tenebrio and Neatus. Comparative analysis of morphology of larva of Z. atratus and larvae of the tribe Cteniopodini of close subfamily Alleculinae was conducted here. The subfamily Alleculinae previously had the rank of family Alleculidae, but our analysis confirmed the reliability of its current taxonomic position as subfamily. The study of morphology of larvae of 1st and 2nd instars of Z. atratus revealed that they are characterized by special taxonomic structures that are not characteristic for oldest instars of larvae of Z. atratus. These characters include absence of spines on caudal segment, presence of a set of 4 setae at posterior margin of tergites of prothorax, metathorax, and 1st to 8th abdominal segments, strongly convex 2nd antennal segment and sensory zone in the form of an open ring on its apex, and etc. Moreover, structure of antenna of larvae of Z. atratus is similar to that of oldest larvae of most species of darkling beetles of the fauna of Ukraine. The most distinctive features of Z. atratus are: sexual dimorphism in structure of clypeus of adults; filiform sclerotized antenna of larva with a continuous sensory zone at apex of 2nd segment, weakly developed 3rd segment; fusion of sclerotized pleurites of 1st–8th abdominal segments with their tergites; sexual dimorphism in structure of 9th abdominal segment of pupa, and presence of two hooks on apex of its appendages. The data of original study of features of life cycle of Z. atratus are given. The pictures and photos of details of morphology of egg, larvae, pupa and adult of Z. atratus are presented. It was recored that life cycle of Z. atratus from laying of egg to the emergence of adult continues from 169 up to 181 days. Adults lived maximum up to 206 days. Maturation of eggs in female after copulation continues 10-11 days. Stage of egg continues 7 days, larva – up to 151 days, including pre-pupal period from 6 to 22 days, pupa – from 8 to 21 days. Twelve larval stages of Z. atratus were recorded in laboratory culture.


Abdurakhmanov, H.M. and Nabozhenko, M.V., 2001. Identification keys and catalog of darkling beetles (Сoleoptera, Tenebrionidae s. str.) Caucasus and the south of the European part of Russia Moscow: KMK Press. (in Russian: Абдурахманов, Г.М. и Набоженко, М.В. Определитель и каталог жуков-чернотелок (Сoleoptera, Tenebrionidae s. str.) Кавказа и юга европейской части России.)

Anhelov, P.A. and Medvedev, H.S., 1981. Darkling beetle (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) of Bulgaria. Entomologicheskoe obozrenie, 60 (2): 302-315. (in Russian: Ангелов П.А. и Медведев Г.С. Жуки-чернотелки (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) Болгарии).

Borchmann, F. 1910. Coleopterorum Catalogus. Pars 3: Alleculidae / In: Junk, W. and Schenkling, S. eds. Berlin.

Bysova, Yu.B. and Keleinokova, S.I., 1964. Family Tenebrionidae – Darkling beetles. In: Hyliarov, M.S., ed. Identification key of insect larvae living in the soil. Moscow: Nauka: 463-496 (in Russian: Бызова, Ю.Б. и Келейникова, С.И. Семейство Tenebrionidae – Чернотелки.)

Catalogue of Palaearctic Coleoptera. In: Löbl, I., Smetana, A., eds., 2008. Stenstrup: Apollo Books.

Chernei, L.S., 2005. Fauna of Ukraine. Vol. 19, Issue 10. Coleoptera. Kyiv: Naukova Dumka (in Russian: Черней, Л.С. Фауна Украины. Т. 19, вып. 10. Жесткокрылые.)

Chernei, L.S. and Fedorenko, V.P., 2006. Identification keys of darkling beetles of fauna of Ukraine (imago, larvae, pupae). Kyiv: Kolobig Publ. (in Russian: Черней, Л.С. и Федоренко, В.П. Определитель жуков-чернотелок фауны Украины (имаго, личинки, куколки).)

Chernei, L.S. and Zelinskaya, T.S., 2017. Morphological peculiarities of preimaginal stages and biology of species of genus Alphitobius Stephens 1829, confirming new taxonomical structure of the tribe Alphitobiini Reitter, 1917 (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae). Ukrainian Entomological Journal, 1 (12 ): 20–34. (in Russian: Черней, Л.С. и Зелинская, Т.С. Морфологические особенности преимагинальных стадий и биология видов рода, Alphitobius Stephens 1829, подтверждающие новый таксономический состав трибы Alphitobiini Reitter, 1917 (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae).)

Ferrer, J., Barclay, M.V.L. and Hancock E.G., 2004. Discovery on lost J.C. Fabricius (1775) and A.G. Olivier (1795) types of Coleoptera in the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, Scotland. Annales Zoologici. 54 (4): 775-781.

Ferrer, J. and Ødegaard, F., 2005. New species of darkling beetles from Central America with systematic notes (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae). Annales Zoologici, 55 (4): 633–661.

Garrido, O.H. and Gutierrez, E., 1994. Variability of Zophobas rugipes Kirsch (Сoleoptera: Tenebrionidae: Tenebrionini) in Cuba.Insecta Mundi, 8 (3–4): 243-245.

Kim, S.Y., Kim, H.G., Song, S.Ho and Kim, N.J., 2015. Developmental characteristics of Zophobas atratus (Сoleoptera: Tenebrionidae) larvae in different instars. Int. J. Indust. Entomol, 30 (2): 45-49.

Medvedev, H.S., 1965. Identification key of insects of the European part of the USSR. Vol. II. Coleoptera and Strepsiptera. Мoscow, Leningrad: Nauka. (in Russian: Медведев, Г.С. Определитель насекомых Европейской части СССР. Т. II. Жесткокрылые и веерокрылые.)

Medvedev, H.S., 1990. Identification key of darkling beetles of Mongolia. St.Petersburg: Proceedings of the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Vol. 220. (in Russian: Медведев, Г.С. Определитель жуков-чернотелок Монголии.)

Medvedev, H.S. and Nepesova, M.H., 1985. Identification key of darkling beetles of Turkmenistan. Ashhabad: Yilyim. (in Russian: Медведев, Г.С. и Непесова, М.Г. Определитель жуков-чернотелок Туркменистана.)

Ogloblin, D.A. and Znoiko, D.V., 1950. Fauna of the USSR. Beetles (Coleoptera). Vol. XYIII, Issue 8. Family Alleculidae, Part. 2. Мoscow, Leningrad: Nauka. (in Russian: Оглоблин, Д.А. и Знойко, Д.В. Фауна СССР. Жесткокрылые. Т. ХVШ. Вып. 8. Пыльцееды (Сем. Alleculidae).)